RIP: Gummy Bear

Gummy Bear

About nine months ago or so, my wife found a dog that was waiting to die at a shelter. He was scheduled to be put down that day, because he was old, sick and wasn’t expected to live more than another two months anyway. She felt sorry for him and took him home, so his last few months of life could be spent somewhere comfortable, where he could have good food and companionship. It was obvious the dog had been mistreated and probably neglected in the past. He had weird habits. At night he wound run to the bathroom and hide behind the toilet. He stayed under the bed most of the time and only came out to eat.

Gummy Bear (we called him that because he had no teeth left) never stopped being weird, but he bulked up and became fairly healthy. He was still mostly blind and bumped into things regularly but his walking improved. He was with us for about nine months and then, just as I was coming home form a trip to Israel, he started having issues. When I got home, my wife was at work and Gummy Bear was under the bed, as usual. Before I’d even taken my coat off, I smelled urine and saw a puddle edging out from under the bed. He peed and laid down in it. I put him in the tub and cleaned everything up and then took him out for a walk. The next few days we woke up to the smell of urine coming from under the bed and then he started crapping blood both inside and outside the apartment.

Gummy Bear had tumors and maybe cancer and I guess old age finally caught up with him. So, we took him to animal control to have him put down today.

So long, pal. I guess I’ll just have to walk myself in the morning and evenings now.

Weekend Adventure: The East Coast Chamber Orchestra & Rescuing Cheesecake

The Announcer introducing the East Coast Chamber Orchestra at Washington Irving Highschool

The Orchestra

Saturday we attended a synagogue service and ran into an acquaintance of ours who had two tickets for an orchestral performance he wasn’t going to be able to attend. He didn’t want to waste them by throwing them out, so he gave the tickets to me and my wife. I imagine he wasn’t planning on attending because of the cold. We weren’t sure we were going to go either, but we’d never seen a live orchestral performance so we figured this was too good an opportunity to pass up. Bundling up and heading back downtown after warming back up at home was a great decision!

The Announcer introducing the East Coast Chamber Orchestra at Washington Irving Highschool
The Announcer introducing the East Coast Chamber Orchestra at Washington Irving Highschool

It was a great experience that we’re both looking forward to repeating in the future. There’s something about hearing classical music performed live that is electrifying in a way that mp3s just can’t convey. I suppose it has something to do with the huge crowd of people all being there for the same reason, seeing the exertion and passion the artists are pouring into their playing on the stage, and experiencing the energy in the room as the crowd claps and cheers after sets.

The chamber orchestra we saw is called the East Coast Chamber Orchestra. They were performing as part of the Arens series of the Peoples’ Symphony Concerts 2013-2014 season. ECCO is a string orchestra that plays without a conductor. The member that introduced the group said they take turns leading. I’m not sure how they do that, but they managed to pull it off extremely well.

The venue itself was odd, I thought, because it was in a high school, but Washington Irving High School’s lobby and performance hall is very attractive. It has an old style of architecture that is very classy. The seats were hard though. By about halfway through I wished I’d brought a cushion. I probably should have just folded my coat and sat on that.

The best part of the concert was when ECCO performed Virtuosity: Five Microconcertos for String Orchestra. The composer, David Ludwig, happened to be in attendance so he gave an introduction to the piece. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the music was very engaging and the artists’ performance was amazing.

The concert was eye opening for me and gave me a new appreciation for classical music. I suppose I had gotten used to the idea that complex and powerful music was something that could only be achieved with computers. We’ve been in New York City for about two years now, and we kept talking about going out to do something like this, something new, but because of our routines and schedules we never quite got around to it. So, we were introduced to an amazing new form of entertaining just by chance, because someone had extra tickets and couldn’t use them. Sometime soon, we’re going to have to go see the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Animal Rescue: Saving Cheesecake

After the concert, we walked over to Veniero’s Pasticceria on 11th Street and 1st Ave. We figured, why not finish off a great night with a great dessert and some a wine? It was getting late, though, so we got our order to go and got on the train. When we got home, we put the pastries in the fridge and went out with the dog to walk him. That’s when the evening took an unexpected turn.

We were walking past the narrow little alley next to our building where the next building over stores garbage between pick-up days. There was this orange cat sitting there in the snow, crying and pacing back and forth. The opening of the alley is blocked with a steel gate. I can only imagine the cat jumped down into the alley from behind the buildings and couldn’t get out. We couldn’t just leave him stuck there. If we did, he might have frozen to death. He was so pitiful and every time we talked to him he cried even more loudly.

I got on the phone with 911, because I expected them to send animal control. I figured, even if he goes to the shelter and runs the risk of being euthanized, that’s better than the cat dying of a combination of starvation, dehydration and hypothermia.

That call didn’t go quite as planned. I grew up with this idea in my head of firemen with ladders getting cats out of trees. I thought that was probably a little naive but at the last I thought they would send an animal control person with a ladder to get over the gate and get the cat out of the alley. The 911 operator instead transferred me to a “more appropriate agency for this situation” and I was disconnected before the call went through.

So, I called 311. After explaining the situation to the operator, she tried to transfer me back to 911 via a conference call, which ended with the 911 operator asking the 311 operator if she had any sense, since animal control issues are handled by 311. For some reason, the 311 operator was trying to pass off responsibility for doing her job onto 911. I literally had to threaten to report her to a local news station and the ASPCA as letting cats die of exposure because she was too lazy to do her job before she took the call seriously and agreed to submit the report and have police sent over to address the situation.

Keep in mind this was after midnight and I was on the phone for about 30 minutes, standing in the street, with it only being about 23 degrees outside.

Right about the time she finished taking my info and was about to submit the report, the cat made a loud yowling noise and launched himself vertically at the gate and managed to catch hold of the grating and haul himself to the top. He almost fell back in, but he eventually jumped down onto the sidewalk.

Cheesecake spending the night in our travel carrier in the bathroom.
Cheesecake spending the night in our travel carrier in the bathroom.

Of course, it didn’t end there. I couldn’t leave the cat in the cold. I wouldn’t have been able to sleep. So, I called to the cat and he followed me upstairs where I put him in the bathroom of our apartment. I dug a big animal carrier we have from our international move with our cats back to the US out of the closet and put the cat in it for the night.

Today we took him to New York City Animal Care and Control. We tried to get him into a few no-kill shelters, but all of the NK shelters in NYC are not accepting cats. So, we’ll keep up with his progress and try to make sure he doesn’t get euthanized, but at least he’s not freezing to death.

Cheesecake in the NYCAC&C during his intake process.
Cheesecake in the NYCAC&C during his intake process.
Cheesecake in the NYCAC&C during his intake process.
Cheesecake in the NYCAC&C during his intake process.

He is a very good cat. Very well behaved. I had my gloves on, but when I picked him up he didn’t even try to fight back. He seemed very happy just to be warm and to have something to eat and drink. According to my wife, he was very behaved at the shelter as well.

When the intake person asked for the cat’s name, my wife called him Cheesecake. So, now Cheesecake is in the shelter, going through a health assessment. I hope this turns out well.

This is just a frozen strawberry and a chunk of ice I found on the sidewalk. It seemed oddly out place.
This is just a frozen strawberry and a chunk of ice I found on the sidewalk. It seemed oddly out place.

Turf-watching Cat

I was out walking my dog earlier today and right as we were coming to the corner of a block, this cat came strutting around the corner like he owned the place. Maybe he does? Maybe he lives in the building and hangs out there all the time?


Anyway, when he saw my dog, his demeanor changed right away and he walked to this spot by the wall and just sat there, watching carefully. My dog isn’t very big, so I doubt the cat was afraid. It was more as if he was keeping an eye on a visitor to his turf. Sort of like the dudes that hang out on the corners around here all the time.